In the past few months I’ve read stories about two currently rising stars having been previously thrown out of ballet schools. One was the Royal Ballet’s Melissa Hamilton (who got thrown out of Elmhurst for being too far behind the rest of the class), and the other, believe it or not, was Joy Womack (asked to leave the Kirov School because of limited flexibility and poor turnout).
Hamilton went on to follow a mentor to another country and engage in private lessons until she more than caught up; Womack, of course, is now so flexible that she almost looks dislocated (while stretching; certainly she doesn’t seem to overdo it in her dancing), and although she denies it, she has one heck of a turnout.
Obviously neither of them gave up, which is a gift to the rest of us. But the news about these two left me wondering how many other dancers with great potential we’ve missed because at some point, somewhere, a kid got thrown out of ballet school.
In the U.S., of course, if you get thrown out of one school, you can go to another and work toward better things. But in some countries it seems that if you are rejected, that’s it. You go on to other things.
Not much more to say here. Certainly ballet teachers aren’t wrong about these decisions all the time, and of course it’s heartbreaking to watch a kid doggedly pursue a career that is just wrong for them. But once in a while, accidents must happen.
Maybe the end result is the product of the child’s own determination. Hamilton and Womack are nothing if not determined. But in ballet, the mirror and the teacher’s eyes also come into play. Apparently, sometimes those give skewed feedback.